Rules are rules at football clubs and professional players are expected to stick by them otherwise they will be punished. But sometimes common sense has got to overrule and that is something that Sir Alex Ferguson may think about next time a key disciplinary decision is to be made.
On Boxing Day United sent out a clear message to their rivals Manchester City that they are still well and truly in the title race this season with a 5-0 victory over lowly Wigan. That result put the champion’s level on points with their city rivals and made the prediction of who will be crowned 2012 champions too hard to call. After the game the players were told to go home a recover before preparations for another winnable home game against troubled Blackburn began.
Later that night Wayne Rooney, Darren Gibson and Jonny Evans and their partners went out for a quiet meal in town for Christmas together and then shortly after went home. The reports suggested the players did not drink to excess or make a scene and simply went home after dessert. But Sir Alex was furious and fined each player a week’s wages, made them train on a day off and the key punishment was that they were dropped for the next game.
As we know the Red Devils went on to lose to Rovers at Old Trafford by three goals to two, with Evans and Rooney’s absent extremely noticeable. Javier Hernandez started up front but only lasted until half time and Michael Carrick had to play at centre half to replace Evans. Carrick did not look comfortable out of position and the three goals conceded were evidence of that. The lack of strike power was clear to see also as one of the most potent attacks in the division failed to score more than twice against one of the worst defences in the opening six months of the season.
If United had won the game, then they would be three points clear at the top of the Premier League going into the New Year, which could end up being vital come May. Their title defence is under real threat from the noisy neighbours this year and they could have put Mancini’s men under real pressure as the second half of the season begins.
Fergie must regret his harsh decision to ban the players and his pride may have taken over. But everyone knows he is the boss and not many players would mess with the gaffa after some of the hairdryer stories that have been heard in recent years. The fine would have been enough and everybody around Old Trafford would be a lot more confident going into Wednesday’s tough away game at Newcastle United.
Whether the legendary Sir Alex was on a power trip or he didn’t realise the cost of his decision, the return of Rooney and Evans will be noticeable this week and in future do not be surprised to see any similar incident treated ‘in house’ and kept extremely quiet after the embarrassment of Blackburn. It could end up being a huge mistake from the most successful manager of all time and one that hopefully will not cost the red half of Manchester in the long run.
Do you think Fergie was right to drop the players? Let me know below or on Twitter: @Brad_Pinard
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